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Health and law enforcement Ministers back action on youth alcohol problem.

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TW 34/2002

Friday 1 August 2003


Parents and other adults who serve alcohol to minors will be the target of new moves by the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy to reduce the level of underage drinking, the Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Trish Worth, said today.

The Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy, meeting in Perth today, is the peak national policy and decision-making body for licit and illicit drugs.

Ms Worth said she was pleased that the Ministers representing health, police and justice agreed that it was unacceptable that young people are generally able to consume alcohol in a private dwelling regardless of age.

"I raised my concerns about this at the meeting today, following a letter from the father of a 15 year old by who tragically died as a result of consuming alcohol which was provided by his friend's mother," Ms Worth said.

"The most stringent laws for the supply of alcohol to minors apply to the consumption of alcohol by young people in licensed premises or public places but, except for NSW, there are no laws to prohibit adults serving alcohol to people under 18 years of age in private dwellings.

"The Ministers today, while not being directly responsible for liquor control, agreed to write to State liquor licensing Ministers asking them to examine the issue of underage drinking and inconsistencies in liquor licensing legislation."

"They have also agreed to ask the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs (IGCD) to oversee the development of a report on under-age drinking. This will involve the National Committee for the Review of Alcohol Advertising (NCRAA) to consider how to inform parents of the need to monitor levels of alcohol consumption by minors and steps to take to minimise high-risk consumption levels."

Ms Worth said she was also pleased that Ministers also supported a series of recommendations from the NCRAA, which highlighted the social power of alcohol advertising in promoting alcohol misuse, especially among young people.

"Ministers were concerned about the insidious emerging trends in alcohol advertising, particularly the marketing of ready-to-drink products, and the portrayal of social, financial and sexual success linked to drinking alcohol," Ms Worth said.

"I am particularly pleased that I will be joined by the Victorian Health Minister, Bronwyn Pike and NSW Special Minister of State, John Della Bosca, in meeting with the alcohol industry to work through the recommendations."

Media contact: Mark Williams, Trish Worth's Office - 0401 147 558